I spoke at Internet Librarian International 2012 earlier this week and listened to many interesting speakers.
The concept that intrigued me most was the library as a “platform”. At the same time the library as a “place” is a powerful one more so coupled with this concept of a platform
Interesting possibilities open up if we think of libraries as platforms and this simplified for me when I came across David Weinberger
David described a library platform as about “developing knowledge and community, not primarily for developing software. Still, like an open software platform, it would:
Be open to all
Give access to every scrap of information it has, including its digital content, but also metadata about that content, its usage, and the social interactions around it
Enable new products and services to be built by anyone with an idea
Integrate everything the library knows into the entire Net ecosystem”
I love David Weinberger “Conceiving of the library as a platform not only opens a range of new services and provides for a continuous increase in the library’s value, it also does something libraries urgently need to do: it changes the criteria of success.”
In a 2010 survey of county residents , 71 percent of respondents agreed that libraries “contribute to economic development by offering assistance with employment searches and applications, job skills, training, career support and research/planning resources for business owners.”
A study commissioned by the Urban Libraries Council notes that the role of public libraries has shifted “from passive, recreational reading and research institutions to active economic development agents.” Libraries are “a dynamic part of the community’s learning infrastructure which supports economic development.”
Another urban myth suggests that the Internet is making libraries obsolete. In fact, the Internet is driving significant growth as more and more people turn to libraries to access and utilize digital information.
“Public libraries are positioned to fuel not only new, but next economies because of their roles in building technology skills, entrepreneurial activity, and vibrant, livable places. The combination of stronger roles in economic development strategies and their prevalence make public libraries stable and powerful tools for cities seeking to build strong and resilient economies.”
It puts the needs of users at the heart of services. We know online services mean that we can access information when we require it, pay a bill or even arrange social care in a simple and quick way. The strategy outlines how different organisations can join up across all sectors to deliver services in a more responsive way.
So where is our library and information leadership? This is our opportunity to put forward a business case for libraries now and in the future Who is going to keep people skilled up? Who will people trust to access much of this?
I believe the future of libraries is in driving and underpinning this strategy and making it a reality for real people.